When I found out that one of my favorite bloggers, Richa of veganricha.com, was writing a cookbook, I was so excited to see what she would come up with. I’ve been a regular reader for years and have always had luck with cooking from her blog, which is updated often and also really gorgeous to look at.
Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen is a strong reflection of her blog. What I love most about Richa’s work is that she masterfully blends together her passion for and command of Indian flavors and cooking techniques while adhering to her vegan beliefs, creating her own style of cooking that’s unique and inspiring. Some other things that I really admire about Richa are that:
- she’s a prolific recipe developer: Richa typically updates her site with new recipes a few times each week. Even if I’m not going to cook from her blog, I love dropping by to take a peek at what she’s come up with! In her cookbook, she’s extracted the best ideas and techniques to create recipes that anyone can make and enjoy;
- I trust her recipes: In my experience, Richa’s recipes are pretty foolproof. They’re also approachable, usually quick to make and non-fussy—and her huge blog following is a reflection of that. The trust Richa has built up with her audience over the past several years is a result of her expertise and knack for simply creating dishes that people want to make; and
- she’s a great photographer: All of her food is gorgeous, but I especially love Richa’s epic, towering and bold burgers … take a look! I can always spot her trademark photography style on social media channels right away.
But back to her cookbook! With VRIK, Richa has taken traditional and sometimes time-consuming Indian dishes and has not only made them vegan, but also more simplified, and quicker to make, with authentic or close-to-authentic results.
Some of the dishes in the cookbook include savory lentil pastries, roasted cauliflower and radish, split pea soup with spices and coconut, South Indian chickpea eggplant stew, butter seitan curry, vegan paneer and spinach in tomato sauce, saffron cream fudge and Bengali saffron cheese dessert. VRIK also includes spice blends, Indian breads, several chutneys, as well as sauces and basics.
I started off with making Richa’s Mango Curry Tofu (I subbed chickpeas which is a suggestion provided in the recipe) and we both loved it! I actually loved it more because while making it, I got to experience standing over the pot and smelling its heavenly aroma while it simmered. Sweet mango puree is mingled with rich coconut milk that’s balanced out with a small hit of apple cider vinegar and scented with cayenne, cinnamon, Garam Masala and cumin.
This has easily become a great go-to dish for us, so I’m excited that Richa’s publisher, Vegan Heritage Press, is not only allowing me to share it with you here, but also offering a free copy of the cookbook to one reader through this post.**To enter, just tell me your favorite Indian dish in the comments section, and I’ll randomly pick and announce a winner on Saturday, June 20 (shipping is limited to US only). Include your email, twitter handle or IG account name or some way to contact you in case your comment is drawn as the winner … good luck!**
The winner of this giveaway is Shelley, congrats! Thanks to everybody who entered!
Mango Curry Chickpeas
Yield 4 servings
(Recipe from Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen Copyright © 2015 by Richa Hingle. Used by permission from Vegan Heritage Press, LLC.)
Mangoes are abundant in India, where they are always juicy and sweet. In the United States, mangoes can be a bit tart. For desserts or curries like this one, I prefer mango pulp or puree in canned or bottled form. You can use a ripe mango, if you prefer, but be sure to puree it well before using. This is a simple recipe but the resulting dish is very alluring with its sweet and spicy sauce. It can easily be made soy-free with 2 cups of soaked chickpeas.
- 14 ounces firm tofu
- 2 teaspoons safflower or other neutral oil
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon Garam Masala
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup chopped red onion
- 1 (1-inch) knob of ginger
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon safflower or other neutral oil
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 cloves
- 1 1/4 cups canned or culinary coconut milk
- 3/4 cup ripe mango pulp or puree (unsweetened or lightly sweetened canned)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- Generous dash of black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon Garam Masala, for garnish
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, for garnish
- Cut the tofu slab into 1/2-inch slices. Place them on a clean kitchen towel. Cover with another kitchen towel. Place a 10-pound (approximate) weight on top and let sit for 10 minutes. Alternatively, you can use pressed tofu. Cut the tofu slices into 1/2-inch cubes.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, tilt the skillet so the oil coats it evenly. Add the tofu and cook until lightly brown on some sides, stirring occasionally, 4 minutes. Add the cayenne, cinnamon, garam masala, and salt and mix well to coat. Cook for another 2 minutes and set aside.
- In a blender, combine the onion, ginger, and garlic and blend into a smooth puree with 2 tablespoons of water. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the cumin seeds, bay leaves, and cloves. Cook for 1 minute. Add the pureed onion and cook until the onion mixture is dry and does not smell raw. Stir occasionally to avoid sticking, 13 to 15 minutes. Add the coconut milk, mango pulp, salt, and vinegar and mix well. Add the tofu and all the spices from the tofu skillet to the sauce skillet. Add a dash of black pepper.
- Mix, cover and cook until the sauce comes to a boil, 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and cook uncovered until the sauce thickens and desired consistency is achieved, about 15 minutes. Taste and adjust the salt and tang. Add 1/2 teaspoon or more sugar if the mango pulp was not sweet. Garnish with cilantro and a dash of garam masala and serve hot.